The annual "Teen Choice Awards" recently broadcast on Fox celebrated the winners of an online poll operated by Teen People magazine for 13- to 19-year-old voters. In between the incessant screaming of 13-year-old girls for every winner, presenter and commercial break came the award winners, and if this isn't enough to send shivers down the spine of any parent, nothing will.
Start with "Choice Rap Artist," which went unsurprisingly to white rap "artist" Eminem, who keeps on teasing and promising us he's going to retire from his so-called musical career, something that couldn't happen fast enough.
The "Choice Rap Track" went to his song "Mockingbird," which is another pathetic example of Eminem using his young daughter as a prop to excuse his brand of ultra-violent raunch. In this song, he tells his daughter how much he loves her, but is too busy touring and ruining the upbringing of other people's children to be home with her. Lest it seem too treacly and sweet, Eminem cracks at the end: "And if that mockingbird don't sing and that ring don't shine, I'm-a break that birdie's neck / I'll go back to the jeweler who sold it to ya and make him eat every carat / don't f**k with Dad."
At least Teen People didn't give him an award for his hit "Ass Like That" and its sophisticated lyrics that were all over the radio, telling a girl that her rump "make my pee-pee go doing, doing, doing."
Female pop sensation Gwen Stefani launched the show, dazzling the teen girls with items from what she maintained is her new fashion line, a torn top revealing a gold bikini layered over a tiger-print bra, and sequin-studded plaid boxers overflowing from the top of Stefani's white shorts. How many girls will be imitating that bizarre style?
The TV shows that won awards seemingly were culled from the cultural compost. Fox's "That '70s Show" won more awards for teen idol Ashton Kutcher. The show is set in the allegedly hip 1970s, and the show's main recurring themes are sex and drugs, with the characters' frequent use of marijuana treated as harmless fun. Which it is, when compared to other subject matter. Last year, an entire episode was devoted to the lead character masturbating in his girlfriend's bathroom. Despite the adult matter, the show is aired at the beginning of the so-called "family hour" in order to attract the most children, which, obviously, it did, as evidenced by the Teen Choice Award.
Fox's "The O.C." won four awards, including "Choice Drama" and best actor and actress in a drama, another "family hour" show at 8 p.m. that specializes in mature themes. A few months ago, an episode featured an out-of-control teen party, with girls in tiny bikinis shown in clinches with boys, dirty dancing with them while the camera zeroed in on their gyrating buttocks. Other party highlights included heavy drinking from beer kegs and teenagers snorting cocaine off of a table in public. One of the lead characters walked by the coke users and cracked, "Looking good, man," then he and his girlfriend retreated to her bedroom to engage in their private party antics, only to find a naked boy and two girls in her bed.
But the real take-the-cake "Teen Choice" winner was ABC's "Desperate Housewives," which won for "Choice Breakout Show," and actress Eva Longoria won for "Choice Breakout Actress." Longoria, whose character's affair with her teenaged gardener was apparently too slutty to earn an Emmy nomination (as three of her "Desperate" cast mates were nominated). But she was upstanding enough for the Teen Choice Awards.
When she accepted, Longoria expressed moral confusion: "I don't know how I feel about teenagers watching us," but lest you think she was attempting to draw some moral line, she added the joke, "but I did spend all season with a teenager." Cue the supportive screaming audience.
Actress Jessica Alba evinced the same bubblegum brand of moral relativism when she wondered to USA Today how her cowgirl stripper from the ultra-violent and raunchy R-rated movie "Sin City" got her nominated for best movie actress in the action-adventure category. "If their parents took them, then fine," she said, shrugging. "It was a very artistic movie."
This is child pornography in reverse. Rather than raunchy imagery of innocent children being peddled to seedy adults, it is moral depravity being marketed to children by adults. Once upon a time, Hollywood had the common decency to build safe harbors around impressionable children. Today, the ground rules are reversed, and now it is that very sweet innocence that they are out to destroy.